Aircraft List

The NASA Airborne Science Program provides a unique set of NASA supported aircraft that benefit the earth science community. These manned and unmanned aircraft carry the sensors that provide data to support and augment NASA spaceborne missions.

Reminder: All investigators with approved or pending proposals from the Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) announcements that have a requirement for a NASA Airborne Science platform/instrument, must submit a Flight Request. The Flight Request is also the method to acquire an estimate if your proposal requires a cost estimate for Airborne Science support. However, for investigators proposing to participate on large, multi-aircraft experiments, a single Flight Request will be submitted for each mission by the Project Manager or Project Scientist. The Science Operations Flight Request System (SOFRS) can be reached directly at

Non-NASA Aircraft
NASA instrumentation may fly on non-NASA Federal aircraft as well as academic and commercial platforms for which agreements for access by SMD investigators are in place, in process, or have recently been approved by NASA Aviation Management as airworthy and safe to operate. For more information, please review the current ASP Call Letter for further requirements and guidance. Please note that in addition to filing the required Flight Request, investigators are responsible for contacting vendors to determine if the platform meets the requirements of the proposed scientific investigation. It is also the responsibility of the investigator to ensure that before any preliminary test flights or actual data collection flights utilizing NASA personnel, instruments or funds occur, all vendors successfully complete a NASA airworthiness/flight safety review in accordance with NASA Aviation Safety Policy for Non-NASA Aircraft.


Note: The NASA DC-8 aircraft will be retired after the ASIA-AQ, April 2024 deployment.

Based at NASA Armstrong's Building 703 in Palmdale, CA, this unique flying laboratory collects data for experiments in support of scientific projects serving the world's scientific community, including investigators from NASA and other federal, state, academic, and foreign institutions. The DC-8 flies three primary missions - sensor development, satellite sensor verification, and basic research studies of the Earth's surface and atmosphere. Data gathered by the DC-8 at flight altitude and by remote sensing have been used for scientific studies in archeology, ecology, geography, hydrology, meteorology, oceanography, volcanology, atmospheric chemistry, soil science, and biology.

NASA Armstrong (Dryden) Flight Research Center
Conventional Aircraft
12.0 hours (payload and weather dependent)
Useful Payload: 
50,000 lbs
Gross Take-off Weight: 
350,000 lbs
Onboard Operators: 
42 not including 8 flight crew
Max Altitude: 
42,000 ft.
Air Speed: 
460 knots
5,400 Nmi
NASA SMD User Fee per Hour: 
Point(s) of Contact: 

Brian Hobbs

Work: (661) 276-2557
Mobile: (661) 221-8235

Kirsten Boogaard

Work: (661) 276-2335
Mobile: (661) 341-7808
Individual Aircraft Details: 

N817NA (NASA817) based at Palmdale/Bldg 703
  Year built: 1969
  Year entered ASP service: 1987